FALSE START by Gil Rabin


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The title--appropriate to Richard's proclivity for racing--is presumably also a reference to his boyhood in a place circumstantially New York, at a time circumstantially the depression; it applies specifically to his churlish, heavy-drinking father who ""had a terrible life"" in the old country and is now inferentially taking it out on his son. Richard's age (like the setting, for most kids) is indeterminable; he's uncomfortably Jewish, yearns for a bike, is afraid to race local champ Cock-a-boy Indian (an Italian, moniker unexplained), resents his father--in short, he's the sum of his hang-ups, none of which are really resolved. Even though, when his father disappears and he is relieved, he bends to his mother's all-forgiving love for her husband and an elderly man's plea for rachmones (pity, compassion) and, asked to identify an unconscious drunk in the hospital, forces out the admission ""He's my Pop."" Only the contrasting example of Cousin Jack, indulgent and undependable, carries any weight. For the most part, it's a dismal, dim, self-occupied story--straight tsuris.

Pub Date: May 9th, 1969
Publisher: Harper & Row